APOPO, a non-profit organization based in Belgium, has been revolutionizing the way landmines are detected and cleared in mine-affected countries around the world. At the heart of their innovative approach are HeroRats, highly trained rodents capable of sniffing out landmines with incredible accuracy. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating world of APOPO’s HeroRats and take a closer look at the life-saving journey they undertake at the APOPO Visitor Center in Siem Reap.
The APOPO Visitor Center in Siem Reap
Located just a 10-minute drive from the city center of Siem Reap, Cambodia, the APOPO Visitor Center opened on the tourist trail in 2018. The APOPO Visitor Center offers a unique and educational experience for visitors interested in learning about the organization’s work. As you step into the center, you are greeted by a warm and inviting atmosphere that immediately captures your attention. The center serves as a hub for raising awareness about the dangers of landmines and the impact they have on communities.
The history and training of HeroRats
To truly appreciate the incredible work of HeroRats, it is essential to understand their history and training. APOPO began its journey in the late 1990s, with the vision of employing animals for humanitarian purposes. After extensive research, they discovered that rats possess an exceptional sense of smell and a keen ability to be trained. The HeroRats undergo a rigorous training program, starting with basic obedience and progressing to scent detection. They are taught to identify the specific scent of TNT, the primary component of landmines, through positive reinforcement techniques.
How HeroRats are used to detect landmines
Once the HeroRats have completed their training, they are ready to join the frontlines in mine-affected countries. These remarkable creatures are transported to areas with known or suspected landmines, where they work alongside trained human handlers. Utilizing their incredible sense of smell, the HeroRats sniff out the scent of TNT and indicate the presence of landmines by scratching the ground. Their lightweight bodies mean they can safely traverse hazardous areas without triggering the mines, making them an invaluable asset in the process of mine clearance.
The impact of HeroRats in mine-affected countries
The impact of HeroRats in mine-affected countries cannot be overstated. Their ability to accurately and efficiently detect landmines has saved countless lives and enabled communities to reclaim their land. By speeding up the mine clearance process, these HeroRats have allowed for the safe return of displaced individuals, the revitalization of agriculture, and the restoration of infrastructure. Their work has not only saved lives but has also contributed to the economic development and social stability of affected regions.
Exploring the APOPO Visitor Center
The APOPO Visitor Center offers visitors an immersive experience that takes them on a journey through the organization’s work. One of the highlights of the center is the opportunity to witness the HeroRats in action. Visitors can observe demonstrations where the rats showcase their incredible skills in detecting landmines. These demonstrations not only educate but also inspire, leaving visitors in awe of the HeroRats’ remarkable abilities.
Interactive exhibits and demonstrations at the APOPO Visitor Center
In addition to the live demonstrations, the APOPO Visitor Center features a range of interactive exhibits that provide deeper insights into the world of HeroRats and the impact of landmines. Visitors can explore the history of landmines, learn about the dangers they pose to communities, and understand the process of demining. The center also offers hands-on activities that allow visitors to experience the training techniques used with the HeroRats and gain a deeper appreciation for the work they do.
Supporting APOPO’s mission at the Visitor Center
Visitors to the APOPO Visitor Center have the opportunity to support the organization’s mission through various means. The center houses a gift shop where visitors can purchase merchandise, with proceeds going directly towards funding APOPO’s operations. Additionally, visitors can make donations or even sponsor a HeroRat, contributing to the ongoing training and deployment of these remarkable creatures.
Visiting the APOPO Visitor Center in Siem Reap
If you find yourself in Siem Reap, a visit to the APOPO Visitor Center is a must. Not only will you gain a deeper understanding of the impact of landmines and the work of HeroRats, but you will also have the opportunity to contribute to this life-saving mission. The center offers guided tours that provide comprehensive information and firsthand experiences, ensuring a memorable visit that will leave a lasting impression.
The APOPO Visitor Center is open to visitors daily from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. Keep in mind that the last tour begins at 4:30 pm.
Below are the tour prices for the year 2024:
- Joint Tour: $10 per person
- Private Tour: 1-4 people $30 per person
- Private Tour: 5-20 people $20 per person
Conclusion and the future of APOPO’s HeroRats
As we conclude our exploration of APOPO’s HeroRats and the APOPO Visitor Center in Siem Reap, it’s important to recognize the incredible achievements and life-saving impact of these remarkable creatures. Through their dedication and exceptional abilities, HeroRats continue to make a tangible difference in mine-affected countries around the world. As APOPO looks to the future, they aim to expand their operations, train more HeroRats, and ultimately create a world free from the threat of landmines. By supporting APOPO’s mission and raising awareness about the importance of mine clearance, we can all play a role in making this vision a reality.
To learn more about APOPO’s HeroRats and support their life-saving mission, visit the APOPO Visitor Center in Siem Reap or visit their website at www.apopo.org. Your contribution can make a difference in the lives of those affected by landmines.
Address: Trapeang Ses Village, Kouk Chauk Commune, Koumai Road, Siem Reap 171253, Cambodia.
Google Map: https://maps.app.goo.gl/ZafKbn5GkxY4ixUN9
Phone: +855 81599237 / +855 61799237